Friday, May 10, 2013

Fiction Friday! May Episode #2

         When I stepped through the door of my childhood home for the first time in five years, the first thing I noticed was the feeling of comfort and piece that washed over me.  I had struggled over the years to build a normal life away from this world, but I had never felt like I truly belonged in it.  I had kept to myself, stayed out of trouble, worked hard, didn’t draw attention to myself, but I had never really felt content.  However standing in the foyer of my mother’s (now my) home, I felt like I was truly where I was supposed to be.

          Jeff came through the door behind me carrying some of our bags, “man Ella, my apartment is cleaner than this”.  Jeff said turning up his nose.

“What did you expect?  It’s been locked up for five years Jeff, and the last time I checked we don’t have a House Elf to keep everything tidy.”  I said sarcastically as I walked into the front parlor.

“House Elf?  What the hell are you talking about?”  Jeff asked.

“A House Elf…Harry Potter…Dobby the House Elf…oh nevermind.  I forget you’re allergic to books.”  I responded.

“Hey, I read!”  Jeff said indigently.

“Uh huh.”  I mumbled.  “Looks like someone closed the place up for me.”  I was standing in the front parlor, to the left of the entryway, surveying the room.

“Yeah, mom and I did that.  She wasn’t sure when you’d be coming back, so we covered everything up after you said you weren’t going to stay here.”  Jeff said.

“Here, help me get these off.”  I grabbed one of the sheets and slid it off a couch, then another that was covering a chair, then the coffee table, etc etc.  Jeff uncovered lamps and a couple of large empty pots and statues located around the room.  He tried the switch on one of the lamps and amazingly enough, it turned on.  I guess we had utilities.  Bonus! 

          I must have looked surprised the lamp turned on because Jeff shrugged and said, “Mom kept them going.  I asked her once why she bothered and she said because she knew you’d be back, just not when.”

          Closing up the house, making sure the utilities were taken care of, and placing the wards on the outside of the doors and windows to keep trespassers and burglars away were all things I hadn’t give any thought to when I left.  Leave it to Aunt Agnes to step up and deal with my responsibilities at a time when I couldn’t.  Even though she had lost her sister and was grieving just as much as I was.

“I’ll send her a check tomorrow.”  I said nonchalantly.

          Jeff looked at me and gave a small snort of laughter, “for five years worth of utilities?  Who are you kidding El, you don’t have that kind of money.”

          I didn’t say anything, but just continued too around the room.  “Wait, do you?”  he asked.

          I didn’t respond, of course I have that kind of money.  I have that and plenty more, but the less Jeff knew about that the better.  I love my cousin, but he’s really bad with money.

          The room looked like it was in a time warp.  Everything was exactly where it had been for years.  Nothing was out of place.  It was all still perfect.  I felt a sudden wave of sadness wash over me, but I took a deep breath and clamped down my feelings.

“First thing first.  We need to get the wards back in place and then we need to get this place cleaned up.  This much dust and staleness in the air isn’t going to help us if Simon manages to find me right away, and I doubt I can sneezed him to death.”  I said sarcastically.

“Um…El?  What about food?”  Jeff asked.

“Until I can get a better understanding of who/what Simon is, plus brush up on my defenses and combat skills, and figure out what he wants with me, I’m pretty much grounded.  Which means you are on gopher duty my friend.”  I said with a grin.

          After I had drafted a list of essentials and sent Jeff to the store with a wad of cash (knowing full well I wouldn’t be getting any change), I walked through the kitchen I would soon be scrubbing toward the back of the house.  The kitchen was large and open, with decent appliances and a large cook’s island with stools on one side in the center of it all.  There was also a small kitchen table set into a nook overlooking the back lawn and I could still see myself sitting at that table eating breakfast and looking out the window.  I stood in the kitchen for a moment remembering how much time I had spent with my mother in this part of the house.  Watching, learning, studying, helping, and trying to be perfect above everything else.  I had thought learning it all; practicing until I was flawless would somehow protect both of us from the dangers surrounding us.  I believed the better I was, the safer we’d be.  I was so na├»ve, and so wrong.  Because no matter how good I was, I wasn’t able to save my mother.  Which meant the world had lost a truly strong and beautiful woman.

          I shook the memory off and went into the greenhouse off the left of the kitchen.  Nothing was growing in here now, but the room still smelled of earth and I could still see all the plants and herbs that use to exist in this room.  It was one of my favorite rooms in the house and I hadn’t realized how much I’d missed it.  Even though there was nothing currently living in the room, there was a fair amount of dried herbs my mother had processed and stored in the cabinets throughout the room.  I found the bag of dried sage, the piece of thin cloth and the roll of twine I was looking for and went back into the kitchen.

          I wrapped the cloth tightly around the sage and had just finished tying the twine around it when I heard the front door close and Jeff’s footsteps in the hall.

“Ella?”  he called.

“In the kitchen.”  I called back, putting the final touches on my sage wand.

          Jeff came in loaded down with bags and proceeded to dump them all on the island I was working at.  “Cleansing wand?”  Jeff asked.  Even though he tried to hide it, Jeff was smarter than he looked.  He just typically chooses not to broadcast it.

“Yes.  I need to get the wards back in place and purge the house.”  I said getting up from my stool and heading towards the back door.  Jeff followed me.

          The back lawn of the house wasn’t in terrible shape, but I could see where most of the trees and shrubs had become over grown.  I would need to spend some time out here eventually, but that was a project for another day.  There was a large thicket of trees that lead to a small nature preserve that back up against my property line.  The tree line was dark and shadowy and didn’t make me feel very comfortable considering the last couple days.  I lit my sage wand and started repeating the spell my mother had taught me years ago.  I walked the entire perimeter of the house, the smoke from the burning sage helping to seal with wards I was placing.  The wards should camouflage our presence and keep the Others away for awhile.  Hopefully.  It had been a long time since I’d used magic like this and I wasn’t entirely sure what I was up against yet.

“That should do it.”  I said when I ended my walk around the house and stepped back onto the back porch.  I stopped short on the porch.  I suddenly felt cold and had the feeling we weren’t alone.  I looked hard into the trees at the back of the property, and couldn’t see anything looking back at me.  But something felt, wrong.   Just as I was about to say something to Jeff, the feeling disappeared.  It was as if someone had snapped their fingers and vanished.  I felt a chill go down my spine, but I shook it off.

“Are you sure it worked?”  Jeff asked.

“Let’s find out.”  I said, opening the kitchen door and walking through.

          Jeff tried to follow me and stopped.  “What the hell?”  He asked looking very confused at the doorframe.  “I can’t walk through.  Why can’t I walk through?”  He asked, suddenly alarmed.

“Because you haven’t said the magic words.”  I said with a grin.  My wards were working.  Unless you know what to say at any of the doors or windows, the house wasn’t going to let you in.

“Please.”  Jeff said exasperated.

“Nope.  Not the right magic word.”  I said.

“This isn’t funny El.  How do I get in?  What’s the lock phrase?”  He asked starting to look a little panicked as he kept trying to push against the barrier.

“House Elf.”  I said with a smile.

Jeff was not amused.

This post is a part of a writing group I'm participating in, all writing on the same prompt each week. After WAY too much time away from these challenges, I am back and ready to keep this going.

The prompt for this week was a simple one, let your characters work through the old saying, "Perfect is the enemy of good."

Please make sure to check out the pieces written by the others in the group:

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Saturday, May 4, 2013

Friday Fiction Returns - May Prompt #1

          I woke up slowly again, only this time my head felt like it had been split in two.  I didn’t move right away, I just lay quietly where I was and listened.  Listened and wish someone would kill me and put me out of my misery.  Plus I really had no idea where I was and I wasn’t too eager to find out.

          I knew someone was in the room with me, I could feel their presence.  I could also hear someone moving around in another room.  Dishes were banging so I assumed whoever it was, they were in the kitchen trying to be as loud as possible.  Or maybe I was overly sensitive because of the pain in my skull.

“Geez El!  You can stop pretending to be asleep, I can feel you projecting.”  Jeff said annoyed.

“Sorry Jeff.”  I said not looking at him.  My voice was a lot steadier than I had expected it to be, I guess that was a good sign.

“Man, feels like icy fingers all over me.”  He was apparently sitting in a chair near where I was laying because he sprang up and called into the other room, “She’s awake.”  I winced at the noise.

          I suddenly knew exactly where I saw.  I should have guessed, the familiar smell of lavender in the air, the feeling of comfort and safety, the fact that I had left it to Jeff to figure out what to do with me after I passed out…Aunt Agnes’ house.  Of course, where else would Jeff take me?  I groaned inwardly.

“Good.  Who’s ready for tea?”  I heard Aunt Agnes glide into the room and set a tray down on the coffee table next to me.  I still hadn’t opened my eyes.  Maybe if I didn’t open them I wouldn’t have to face the lecture.  Yeah, I’m not that lucky.

          I lifted my hand and rested it over my eyes as I struggled to sit up.  I came to sitting position on the couch and slowly lowered my hand, opening my eyes and looked around, trying to get my bearings.  Aunt Agnes was sitting in a chair on the other side of the coffee table, arms and legs crossed, and Jeff was leaning against the doorway frame with his hands in his pockets.  I glared at him.

“I didn’t know where else to take you El.” Jeff said shrugging his shoulders and looking sheepish.

“Don’t be angry with him Ella, he did the right thing bringing you here.  Now, judging from the little information I was able to get out of Jeff and the fact that you look as white as a sheet, I’m assuming you have a headache.”  She said matter-of-factly as she started to pour tea into the cup in front of me.

“I think my brain is bleeding.”  I said in a deadpan voice.

“More like melting.”  She responded.

“Not funny Aunt Agnes.”  I said annoyed.

“Well it was a little funny if you could have seen the expression on your face.”  She said with a shrug. 

“Drink your tea.  You need it.”  Aunt Agnes said indicating the cup in front of me.

          I picked up the delicate tea cup and sniffed its contents.  It smelled like cough syrup.  I had no desire to drink this or anything else right now.  I went to place the cup back on the tray.

“Drink it Ella.”  She said sternly

“I don’t want tea Aunt Agnes.  I want my bags and I want to get out of here.  I need to get out of here.  I just need a minute to get back on my feet.”  I said and made the mistake of trying to stand.

          Aunt Agnes sipped her own tea and watched me silently as I flattered, lost my balance and landed back on the couch with a thump.  She was pretty woman for her age.  Long, curly black hair with just a touch of grey streaked through it that was currently pulled back away from her face in a loose braid.  Aunt Agnes was a petite woman, with a deceptively delicate looking frame.  She was a lot stronger than she looked, but it was her eyes that stood out on her.  Glass green eyes, my mother’s eyes, my eyes.  Eyes that were currently icy as she looked at me.

“That must have been some spell you threw at him.  Either that or you are really rusty.”  She said.  “Ella, you have two choices.  You can either sit on that couch and drink your tea and tell me what the hell is going on, or I can force you to drink it.  We both know I can and that you wouldn’t like it if I did.  Your choice, which is it going to be?”  She asked me calmly.

          I looked at her for a few seconds, trying to determine how serious she was.  I picked up my cup and took a sip, and just as I had suspected, the tea tasted terrible.

“Good choice.  Now, will you please tell me what happen tonight?”  she asked exasperated.

          I told her everything that had happen.  Starting from the train station, the confrontations with Simon in my apartment (I left out the kissing part since I’d convinced myself that it hadn’t happen), being locked in my apartment, calling Jeff, Grover’s strange behavior and finally my last ditch effort to escape.  When I finished my story, both she and Jeff were just staring at me.  Aunt Agnes had a look of bewilderment, and Jeff had a look of terror on his face.

          After what seemed like an eternity of Aunt Agnes staring at me, she finally started shaking her head and asked quietly “when are you going to stop trying to run from your fate?”

“Don’t start.”  I said gruffly, setting my empty cup back on the tray.  I hadn’t even realized I’d finished its contents.

          I could see the color start to rise on Aunt Agnes’ face and then her angry voice, “You have to stop trying to deny your birthright Ella.  The more you try to fight this the worse it’s going to get.  You need to accept who you are and start embracing your powers.  If your mother…”  She trailed off.

          I winched, the pain in my head had subsided, but not the pain in my heart.  “Mom’s not here anymore Aunt Agnes.”  I said in a whisper.

          I watched her face soften as she said, “I know Ella, but it’s time to stop denying who she was, what she was and what you are.”

“You’ve let your defenses grow lax and after your display of power tonight, power that even I felt by the way, you are going to start attracting a lot of attention and you need to be prepared.  Your mother wouldn’t have wanted you to spend your life hiding and running, she would have wanted you to fight and embrace what is in your blood.”  She said.  “It’s time you went home.”

          I just looked at her for several seconds, “I can’t.”  I said pain running through me again.  I hadn’t been to my mother’s house, my house, ever since she had died.

“Yes you can, and you need to.”  She said.  “Jeff will go with you.  He’ll stay with you and help.”

          Jeff’s eyes grew huge and his mouth dropped open, “wait, mom, what do you mean I’ll stay with her?  I’ve got things going on I can’t miss, I’ve got…” he trailed off as his mother’s piercing gaze landed on him.

“It’s time you grew up too Jeffrey.  You have spent enough time not living up to your potential and responsibilities.  You will stay with Ella until we know for sure it’s safe.”  Aunt Agnes said sternly.

          Jeff shoved his hands back into his pockets and leaned back against the wall, defeat clearly written on his face.  There was no crossing Aunt Agnes when she laid down the law.

“Ella, go home.  Learn from your mother’s things and prepare for the days to come.  Does your head feel better?”  She said, even though she already knew the answer.

“Actually, yes.  I feel fine, good even.  What was in that tea?”  I asked.  She just smiled.

“How are we supposed to get into the house anyway?  It’s locked and I doubt El has keys for it.”  Jeff asked from the doorway.

“The house will know Ella.  You won’t have a problem getting in.”  Aunt Agnes said mysteriously.  “Go now, and come to me when you have questions you need answered.”

          Thirty minutes later, Jeff and I pulled up in front of my mother’s house.  Well, my house now.  I was a large three story, Victorian era house nestled into the end of a dead-end street.  I had been paying a landscaping company to keep the outside lawn and trees looking nice.  I didn’t want it to start looking like a haunted house, even though that’s what it felt like to me.

          Jeff and I walked up the front steps and onto the porch.  Jeff tried turning the door knob, but it wouldn’t budge.  I stood staring at the door for a moment.  It had been five years since my mother died and I had been inside this house.  I reached for the knob and felt it turn easily in my hand.  As I pushed the door of my childhood home open, I also opened the door to my past, my present, my legacy and hopefully, my future.
This post is a part of a writing group I'm participating in, all writing on the same prompt each week. After WAY too much time away from these challenges, I am back and ready to keep this going.
The prompt for this week was a simple one, in keeping with the idea that May is the month that we celebrate mothers.
Begin your piece with the following phrase, "Your mother..."
Please make sure to check out the pieces written by the others in the group: